Friday, December 2, 2011

Tis a Writer's Life for me!

I finished the first draft of Forsaken Dreams, book 1 in the Escape to Paradise series. Yea!  I always feel better when the first draft is done. That means I at least have a story to work with. I suppose writers who outline and plot everything before they start writing don't have this problem. They've already got the entire story, including every twist and turn, laid out before them. Me? I can't write like that. 

I did try to outline an entire book once and I felt like pulling my hair out! Good thing I didn't cause I need all that hair.

They call us seat-of-the-pants writers and we are a rare breed. Most authors I know are plotters. Those darn plotters.. always plotting things!  

The only thing I have firm in my mind about a new story is the beginning, the ending, and a couple of major events that will happen.  I also have outlined each character in great detail as I showed you in prior posts, and I also have each main character's spiritual and character arcs pretty well defined.  Then I put on the headphones, crank up the music (I listen to anything from classical to movie scores to Christian Rock to Alternative, depending on my mood)  stretch my fingers, open up a new Word Doc and start pounding away. 

Did I mention I pray too?

Does it always flow naturally? NO. Sometimes I'm staring at that insidious blinking cursor for quite awhile. He's actually quite a taunting rascal, that one.  But if I close my eyes and picture the scene, the characters in my head and get swept away in the music, the words will eventually come pouring out of me. This is my favorite part of the process. Complete abandon. No rules. No requirements, no editing, no research. I'm living in a movie inside my head.

That's when the creativity really kicks in and all these great ideas flood my mind.  So, that's how I do it. 

But now, my real work begins.

By the way, it's my daughter's birthday today. She is 30 years old! Happy Birthday, Sweetie!! 


  1. Fri Dec 2nd,
    "Morning, MaryLu."
    Good work ... for finishing the first draft of 'Forsaken Dreams' ! Bet it feels really good to be at this point. Another exciting novel for us to look forward to, in the new year ! "Seat-of-the-pants writer" ... that's cute ! Whatever/however you do it .. it works !!! I love the 'abandon/no rules/no requirements/no editing/no research' -- part ... sounds totally cool, rewarding, and adventurous ! You're carried off into the "writer's playground" ... and from there ... it flows forth. Keep on, keeping on !
    Thanks for sharing again, with us.
    And, a most "Happy 30th Birthday", to your daughter today !
    Take care, and, God Bless,
    In Him, Brenda Hurley

  2. Thanks for posting this today, MaryLu! I'm almost at the end of the draft for another book and was feeling very . . . unprofessional. For I write just like you do. It's a mess! But at least now I can work with it. I wish I were a plotter. I really do. But I'm not. I've tried. And I needed to know today that I am not alone. Blessings!

  3. I'm glad to read how you write your books. I was planning on trying to plot my second book, but it the past everytime I've done that, the words never flowed and it was just too difficult.
    I like the freedom of being a sotp writer. That's how I started this book. I had a "picture" of how I wanted things to go and look like and a few scenes that I considered "must-haves", but no order for anything. Beginning, list of must-have scenes, and ending. That's it. Of course, now that I've figured out fully who my heroine is, I'm going to have to go back and make her sound like herself at the beginning of the book, but that's for later ;)

    Happy Birthday to your daughter! 30!! Woohoo! :)

  4. Loved reading about how you like to write. Reminds me of how I like to read!! :) I get lost in a book and become apart of it.

    Thank you for writing your great books! Can't wait for the next one!

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  6. Love this, MaryLu! All that plotting bogs me down and kills my creativity. I love when my characters surprise and delight me:) Like you, prayer is a huge part of waht I do. I know then it's Spirit-given and driven. I couldn't do it otherwise. Bless you for being here.

  7. I'm a plotter and outliner, but the funny thing is, my stories usually take an entirely different direction than my original outline. :-) I love that you listen to movie soundtracks and Christian rock while writing. Me too!

  8. Thank you, Brenda, always a delight to hear your cheerful, kind words!

    Anne, I'm so glad to hear you're like me! Us crazy, messy writers need to stick together. :-)

    And Sheri too! Maybe I'm not so weird after all. Although I usually do know who my heroine is at the beginning. LOL

    Thank you so much, Mandy,

    Laura, thanks for dropping by. Ladies, Laura is one of my favorite authors.. if you haven't read her, you must. That's an order! LOL And dare I say, Great minds think alike... I would have never pegged you for a seatser.

    Gwendolyn, Maybe you're a closet seatofthepantser, eh? But music does really spark creativity.. doesn't it?

    Have a good weekend, Ladies!

  9. Happy Birthday to your daughter!
    You know, one day you should gather all of your 'creative process' info and put it all in a 'How I write a Novel' booklet. You describe your process so clearly, that it is so helpful for those who write or are thinking of writing novels. And you write in an informative and sometimes funny way as you describe this process....I know, I know, you already have your hands full. LOL Maybe in your old age? LOL :)

  10. I've discovered that I too am a seat-of-your-pants writing gal. I've done one novel - it still needs a lot of work I think - and I've tried outlinging, thinking that I HAVE to outline to do it right. It's so good to know that's not the case! I love writing as a SOYP person, not knowing exactly what's going to happen on the next page/chapter. It's like reading a good book. The excitement of not knowing,and the wonder at what's going to happen next ... I love it! Thanks for your interesting and informative posts.

  11. I actually write like that also! I've tried outlining but it just doesn't work for me. I like thinking of scenes and tidbits to add as I go rather than outlining it all perfectly at first. It's nice to know that other people actually write that way! Thanks a lot for this post, MaryLu! :)

  12. It works well for you! I read some authors and, though it's a good story overall, I feel like I read a scene and go..oh, they put that in there so "X" would happen. It's not very exciting when I can see the outline within the pages of the story. Your books tend to sweep me away and never once have I said, "oh, that had to happen so 'x' would happen." No, it's all so natural as it unfolds. Another great reason I love your books. I am SO glad that you dove into the dream that God put in your heart & trust Him to make it all happen! Thank you!


  13. HI MaryLu,

    Oh, I'm excited to read this book already, and it's not even finished yet :) :) :) Happy Birthday to your daughter :) :) Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)

  14. Debbie, I'll get right on that book after I'm done with our devotional! LOL.. You're sweet.

    Caroline, I agree! It's so exciting to have the story unfold in my mind as it moves along.. and even more fun when the characters just kinda take over!

    Heather, wow, you too? I'm amazed. My post must have brought out all the pantzers. LOL.. We are a fun breed!

    Thank you, Joleen! God has never let me down.. He just keeps filling my head with stories.. I'll probably still be writing them down in Heaven. :-)

    Thank you Heather from California! Acutally, Ladies, Heather here only lives an hour away from me.. I have got to get over there to meet her! Hugs back at you, girl.

  15. Really got creative with the pictures this time, eh?
    I love this post, because I can identify with so much of it and other reasons...
    Happy birthday to your daughter! It's my oldest brother's birthday.
    Glad you finished your rough draft. I do that for school, I reread it to edit it and I laugh at my mistakes. If it's short I print it and edit that way. I pretty much paint the page red! lol
    Love the picture of the woman pulling her hair out. It's great!
    I ALWAYS listen to music when I write anything (for example right now). My problem is I stop to dance or sing the lyrics! =D Hope you're not that crazy! I listen to a wide variety too. Christian, rock, pop, I'm listening to French music right now. I speak like barely the basics of French so it's easy to focus. Plus, if you don't know what it says you can really hear the emotion, this song is sad but ends with hope--maybe.
    Praying's always a good thing!
    I don't write fiction unless it's required but I hate just staring at the cursor. I highlight the section I'm stuck on to yellow, write myself a note and continue. I talk to myself like "can't think of what to write, will come back, gotta love my brain, right?" People probably think I'm crazy.
    -Rebekkah xD

  16. Sounds like you have quite the creative, quirky, fun personality, Rebekkah! God has something special planned for you. :-)

  17. Only an hour away and you haven't met. If you and I lived just an hour away, we would have sooo met by now. :)

  18. I think its cool that you can write like that. Do you ever take a day break and leave the story for a while? Like, giving your brain to rest and revamp on its creative juices. I heard that a lot of authors do that (I especially do this with my essays-particularly the ones I wish I didn't have to write lol) too.
    I can't write any story out on word doc until I had written it out on paper by hand. Don't know why (maybe it IS that cursor!). But even then, what ends up on word doc is different and much much better than what I wrote on the paper in the first place. I think I'm a mix between being a pantzer and a plotter. Sometimes a really cool scene pops in my head and I'll write it all down, and store it. I usually don't quite know where the scene goes or if it even has to do with a story or anything else I'm working on. But I also do an overall outline; like if I want something to happen during a particular time or season, I need to know where my character is now, how long it will take for the characters to get there.Confusing? Totally. You should see my desk-its a mess! And my wall is decorated with all sorts of notes and pages. =) But I think you're right about the music. If I want to create a certain mood, I usually put in a song that will help me write that.

  19. Debbie, I know! me too.. I checked and you live about 5 hours away from me.. still that's not too far.. we should meet halfway for lunch or something.

    Eszter, yes.. I do take breaks. Like right now.. I'm not really writing anything new. I'm going to spend the next few weeks going over the storyline.. writing it out.. and allowing any new ideas to pop up. And everybody writes different... your way is probably perfect for you! I know another author, Kaye Dacus, who writes everything out long hand before she types it into the computer. Me? That would drive me nuts!!

  20. MaryLu, that would be great, if I had a reliable vehicle to drive. One day it will happen. :)

  21. Oh! I'm glad that someone as talented and successful as you isn't a plotter! I'm not either. But can we work on finding a more dignified name than "pantser"? As much as I love the Dr. Evil picture, "plotter" still sounds so much more writerly...

  22. Julie, love your profile pic with the ship wheel! Anyway, yes I agree pantser isn't very flattering... how about the wild and free method? or maybe just the creative method.. although I think plotters would take offense to that. Any ideas?

  23. I love your posts! So encouraging for budding writers and your readers.